Ranger Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to your questions about becoming a Washington State Parks Ranger here, but if you still have questions, contact our Recruitment team at HR.Recruitment@parks.wa.gov

Are you currently hiring?

Yes, we will be posting the Park Ranger 1 job announcement January 2023 and the Park Ranger 2 job announcement December 2022.

Am I a sponsored or non-sponsored applicant?

A sponsorship candidate is someone who has not previously worked as an armed ranger or general authority police officer. A sponsored candidate has not attended a law enforcement academy such as, PRLEA, PLEA, POST, BLEA, SLETP,

A non-sponsored is a candidate who is currently a certified general authority peace officer in good standing, and has worked as a full-time law enforcement officer for at least three years (from date of commissioning). Work as a correctional officer, military police, or state park ranger does not qualify. 

If you are unsure whether you qualify as a lateral applicant, please contact our Recruitment Team  at HR.Recruitment@parks.wa.gov  

Do you have an officer training program?

Yes, we refer to it as the Ranger Training Program (RTP). The RTP is a standardized training program to facilitate the Rangers transition from academic learning to actual performance of law enforcement duties in the field. During the RTP, the Ranger will ride with multiple Training Officers over the course of 14-20 weeks, until it has been determined that the Ranger can work independently.   

What does In-Training Plan mean in the job announcement? 

There are two paths a Ranger can take when they are hired at the entry level (Park Ranger 2), sponsored or non-sponsored. 

In-Training Plan Sponsored (without previous Law Enforcement Training

)Park Rangers will initially be hired at the Park Ranger 1 classification, as a training step. Incumbents will remain at the Ranger 1 level for a minimum 12-month period.  Incumbents must successfully complete all training requirements to advance to the Park Ranger 2 classification within 18 months of the initial date of hire.  All Park Ranger 2's will serve a minimum 6-month trial service period** after completion of the training programs. 

In-Training Plan (with previous Law Enforcement Training or Expired Credentials*)

Park Rangers will initially be hired at the Park Ranger 1 classification, as a training step. Incumbents will remain at the Ranger 1 level for a minimum six (6) month period.  Incumbents must successfully complete all training requirements to advance to the Park Ranger 2 classification within 12 months of the initial date of hire.  All Park Ranger 2's will serve a minimum 6-month trial service period** after completion of the training programs. 

* Expired credentials- Credentials are considered expired 24 months after last working in a commissioned law enforcement capacity. For the purpose of recruitment, to be eligible for the equivalency course, candidates must have worked in a commissioned law enforcement capacity within the previous 60 months, at the time of application. If you do not fall within this criteria, you would be considered a sponsored candidate.  
 **Trial Service periods may be extended, not to exceed 12 months. 

What are the minimum requirements to become Park Ranger?

You can find the minimum eligibility requirements for both entry-level and lateral applicants at our Park Ranger 1 information Page  or Park Ranger 2 Information page. Park Rangers 3 and 4 openings will have the specific qualifications listed in the job announcement. 

Please note: We do not offer waivers for required qualifications.

How do I know whether something I did in my past might disqualify me?

Certain past behaviors and circumstances may disqualify you as a candidate. For a full list of automatic and potential disqualifiers, go to our minimum qualifications and disqualifiers page.

Potential disqualifiers are considered in the context of all other information reviewed during the hiring process. Although you are welcome to contact us to discuss potential disqualifiers, we cannot tell with absolute certainty whether certain past behaviors may disqualify you until all relevant information is available to us.

Is there an age limit for candidates?

We have a minimum age requirement (21) for armed Park Rangers 2-3, but we DO NOT have a maximum age limit.

How does the tested process go for armed parks rangers?

Although all candidates must apply through www.careers.wa.gov or from our parks Job Page. The hiring processes for sponsored and non-sponsored candidates are almost identical. Our official testing process begins after a conditional offer of employment is made and consists of four main elements:

I'm not a Washington resident. Can I still apply?

Yes! We hire many Park Rangers from out of state. For consistency though our testing takes place in Washington, so an out-of-state candidate must be able to travel here at least once to complete the agency specific testing process.

Can I apply if I have a tattoo(s)?

Yes, with some limitations. Candidates with any tattoos that are deemed offensive may be disqualified.

When should I apply?

You may apply at any time after you meet the minimum requirements for the position. 

However, there may be instances where an applicant is currently attending a non-sponsored academy (for example PLEA and SLETP) within a month or two of a scheduled oral panel. Please contact us at HR.Recruitment@parks.wa.gov with specific questions.

Candidates who are currently in the military and meet our minimum requirements can begin the application process up to six months before their separation date, depending on the applicant's availability to be available for the scheduled interviews and exams.

How long does the hiring process take?

This depends on the timing of scheduled oral panels, the availability of the candidates and various contracted examiners. Generally, the hiring process takes three to four months to complete.

The Hiring Process has four (4) phases-

PHASE I - Apply online during an open recruitment period.  If your PHS (Personal History Statement) is not fully completed, with all attachments, at the time review, we will not consider you for that hiring cycle. There will be some time that lapses between completing your application and initial review and scheduling for Phase II; you should spend that time preparing for the Initial interview and oral board. 

If complete, your application goes under Subject Matter Expert (SME) Review. 


  • Intake Interview (currently virtual)
  • Oral Board (currently virtual)
  • Suitability Assessment (currently an online proctored non-medical examination)
  • Background Investigation begins


  • Suitability Assessment review
  • Conditional Offer of Employment
  • PAT (You must pass the PAT before you will be allowed to move forward with any other testing)
  • Polygraph
  • Psychological Assessment
  • Pre-Employment Medical Exam with Drug Screening


  • Final hiring determination 
  • Park Specific placement 

What happens if I fail a portion of the testing process?

If you fail the initial suitability assessment, you will not be given a conditional offer of employment. You may reapply at any time. If you fail the post-offer of employment testing (Physical Ability Test (PAT), Medical- Physical evaluation and drug testing, Polygraph examination, Psychological examination), there is a one (1) year mandatory waiting period before your next application will be considered. If you fail the PAT, you are allowed to retake this test one-time, within a reasonable time. All testing expires one-year from the original testing date. You must pass the PAT before moving on to the other agency specific testing. 

I have a top secret clearance through the military. Do I still need a background investigation?

Yes. We are required by law (RCW 43.101.095) to complete a background investigation, polygraph, and psychological assessment on every candidate, regardless of prior clearance granted by another entity.

Do I get to pick my duty station?

Yes, to a point of availability, agency needs and testing outcomes. 

We do consider any candidates strengths and experience you may possess and try to align this with the area management. 

We will provide a list of available duty stations to prospective candidates up front, but the list of available parks changes frequently. The stations that are vacant today may not be vacant by the time an applicant completes the process. When we are aware that a candidate will more than likely meet the overall qualifications (not guaranteed) we provide an updated list of available parks. 

When will I know where I'll be stationed?

Candidates will be assigned a duty station at a Park at the point of the official job offer, shortly after the culmination of the testing, background checks and review process. Candidates will often spend months at the park before attending the academy or the agency specific commissioning training. 

Will I have to go through a Basic Law Enforcement Academy?

The answer is, maybe.

All sponsored Park Rangers are required to complete the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) or equivalent schooling. The specific school candidates attend is often based  on the class schedule, availability and timing. 

How long does the Basic Law Enforcement Academy take?

The Basic Law Enforcement Academy requires 720 hours (18 weeks) of training. The agency covers lodging and meals throughout the course of the training.

Will I be paid while attending the Basic Law Enforcement Academy or Equivalency Academy?

Yes. Candidates are hired prior to entering the Academy and are therefore paid employees while completing initial training. We also pay for your lodging and meals while in attendance.

Do you offer ride-alongs with commissioned Parks Rangers?

No, our policies do not allow for ride-alongs, but if you’d like to speak directly with a Ranger for specific information, please feel free to reach out to us at HR.Recruitment@parks.wa.gov 

Still have questions? Contact us at HR.Recruitment@parks.wa.gov